Nick Kyrgios Holds His Temper, as well as Australia Holds Its Breath

MELBOURNE, Australia — Nick Kyrgios was not willing to be hunted.

During the opening points of his Australian Open match against the wily veteran Gilles Simon — known for his ability to lure opponents into deadly traps with deceiving softballs as well as sudden bursts — Kyrgios did not take the bait.

Instead, on a hazy Thursday night, the mercurial Australian played the start of This specific second-round match in a way in which belied his reputation. He was controlled, contained, comfortable, as well as mature.

The result, early on: perfection. the item was Simon who made the errors, Simon who became the prey.

Kyrgios, 24, tall, rangy as well as slope-shoulderedtook the first set in a mere 27 minutes, 6-2.

At in which moment, as Melbourne Arena trembled with cheers, the item was hard not to jump ahead as well as wonder about how This specific tournament as well as This specific year could unfold for Nick Kyrgios.

Largely because of in which vibe, there can be nobody, at least among the top men’s players, who so easily taps into the youthful fans in which tennis can be desperate to attract as its future lifeblood.

can be he the wayward soul who has played large chunks of matches by simply going through the motions, essentially quitting?

Or can be Kyrgios the game competitor who, in 2014, at age 19, announced himself to the tennis world by beating Nadal on his way to the Wimbledon quarterfinals?

He has beaten not only Nadal, nevertheless also Roger Federer as well as Novak Djokovic. Few can say in which. nevertheless his ranking of 26 remains mired within the broad no-man’s land in which exists just outside the top 10. Despite constant talk in which he was capable of stepping to the fore as well as upending the Big 3 hierarchy in men’s tennis, his last trip as far as a quarterfinal in a major was in 2015.

the item’s hard to watch Kyrgios — with his wide smile, his style, his penchant for pulling off trick shots, his fierce serve as well as searing forehand, his oh-so obvious talent — as well as not fall for him.

as well as the item can be hard, at the same time, not to be left wanting as well as disappointed.

Kyrgios seemed utterly in control for a very long swath against the 35-year-old Simon.

nevertheless then the finish line drew near. Just a few games via the clean sweep of a three-set win, Kyrgios’s lesser self emerged. Soon, he was missing easy shots. Suddenly, he radiated tightness.

He had already chirped at the umpire when admonished for delaying play, as well as mockingly mimicked Nadal’s time wasting tic of tugging on his shorts as well as tussling with his hair. The message was clear, as well as brought to mind the pleadings of a child: Nadal gets away with the item — why can’t I?

at This specific point, Kyrgios looked as well as sounded equally petulant as he began heaping a barrage of barbs at friends as well as advisers near the court, as if they were to blame for his shoddy play down the stretch.

The general look among the faces within the overwhelmingly Australian crowd became one of stricken, nervous worry. They want to believe in Kyrgios the way they believe within the women’s top seed, another of their own, Ashleigh Barty. The difference can be they can count on Barty. They know what to expect: unwavering effort, quiet humility. They don’t know what they’ll get with Kyrgios. They had seen him self destruct plenty of times before.

“He’s on the edge at This specific point, of something not Great happening,” said one of the commentators on Australian TV. The commentator was John McEnroe, who of course can be as expert as any at diagnosing the fraying emotions of a player on the verge of losing control.

Sure enough, the wheels wobbled all the way off. Simon rose up as well as snatched the third set. What seemed like a sure thing was at This specific point a fight.

The match marched forward, as well as as the games went on within the fourth set, Kyrgios’s mood only got worse. He would likely describe himself after the match as being close to going to entering a “dark place.”

nevertheless something interesting happened along the way. Watching closely, you could see him change. He stopped looking up at the stands, put an end to the salty barbs. His sloping posture straightened. His face grew focused, serious, intent. He began playing with just enough control to be dangerous again.

He dug deep, centered himself, as well as found his footing.

Soon enough he edged ahead, the front-runner once more, just in time.

Match point.

The crowd roared, insisting he end the item. He tossed the ball toward the pitch-dark sky, struck the item with as much force as well as clarity as any ball he had struck all night.

Ace.

Game, set, match, Kyrgios: 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.

Nothing can be ever certain when he takes the court. Maybe he will flame out within the next round. Maybe he will keep going, perhaps all the way to the last weekend. Nadal potentially awaits within the fourth round. What a contrast. The ultimate professional versus the ultimate question mark. There does not appear to be much love between them. the item would likely be one of the most anticipated matches of the tournament.

The potential of in which was enough on This specific raucous evening to savor the moment, to fall for the full range of the quixotic as well as talented Kyrgios as he found his way to a spirit-lifting win.

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